Hall captures most votes in municipal election

Gary B. Gray • Apr 27, 2013 at 10:30 PM

And the award for total votes received in Johnson City’s municipal election this year goes to ... incumbent Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Hall at 2,923.

Hall handily paced the field of seven candidates vying for four, four-year terms on the board, winning all precincts but one and tying for the lead in another. Incumbent Tom Hager bested Hall by 4 percentage points in Gray.

“I was surprised by that result and honored so many people turned out to vote for me,” she said. “The overall turnout was low, but the people that were concerned about the issues came out to vote. It showed they are confident in the way we’re doing things.”

Hall also led all candidates in early votes with 1,304 and absentee votes, 141.

Unofficially, the total number of votes cast, including early, absentee, election day and write-in votes, was 25,660. Remember that voters had an opportunity to cast seven total votes, but they had the option of showing their favoritism for only one, or none if they chose to do so.

The unofficial total vote count for Tuesday’s municipal election, including absentee and early votes, was 4,455, or 11.4 percent of the city’s 38,237 registered voters, according to Maybell Stewart, Washington County administrator of elections. The split was 1,950 early and absentee votes and 2,505 election day votes.

“Everything went well, and we had no problems,” Stewart said about the election. “It was really a typical Johnson City election.”

This year’s turnout was down slightly from the 2011 municipal election in which 4,510 votes were cast, a roughly 12 percent turnout. The 2009 contest included a pool of 37,431 registered voters; 3,335 turned out, or just less than 9 percent.

The Washington County Election Commission tallies votes in 21 precincts. Twenty are physical polling sites within Johnson City’s corporate limits, which includes two locations in Carter County and one in Sullivan County. Early and absentee votes are, for mathematical purposes, considered the 21st precinct.

The next-highest vote-getter was former board member Jenny Brock, who won one of two City Commission seats, garnering 2,417 votes. Close behind Brock was new City Commissioner and current County Commissioner David Tomita with 2,364 votes. Incumbent board members Dick Manahan and Hager followed in total number of votes with 2,263 and 2,257, respectively.

Turnout was highest for the Board of Education races. The contest to seat four members to four-year terms totaled 13,645; the race to seat one member to serve out the remaining two years of Brock’s term drew 3,759 votes, bringing to 17,404 the total number of votes cast in the school board race.

Hall by far received the most votes among those vying for the four Board of Education seats. She won every precinct except Gray, which went to Hager; Happy Valley, won by incumbent Manahan; and she tied with two other candidates at the Cherokee Elementary School precinct.

Sheila Cox prevailed in the spot left open by Brock. She outpaced James Povlich Jr. by nearly 2-1 in early voting, but he ran the incumbent hard on election day.

The City Commission race, in which voters could cast two votes, drew 8,256 votes.

Though Brock received the most overall votes in the City Commission race, Tomita beat her at eight precincts, including three of the top four precincts at which the most votes were cast. Frank Bolus took only one, in Gray. Vance Cheek Jr. tied with Tomita at the Happy Valley precinct in Carter County, though Brock was the top vote-getter there. Otherwise, Brock and Tomita easily ran one-two in all other precincts.

Meanwhile, Towne Acres Elementary School hosted the largest turnout with 627 voters exercising their right at the location. That’s about 18.3 percent of all registered voters. The next busiest site was the Henry Johnson Alternative Learning Center with 464 votes cast, or a little more than 14 percent of registered voters.

Lake Ridge drew the third-highest number of voters with 356, followed by North Side at 344.

Speaking of highs and lows, only one voter showed up at the Watauga precinct in Carter County, while 33 voters visited the Happy Valley location, also in Carter County. The Piney Flats precinct in Sullivan County drew 15 voters.

The Washington County Election Commission has 45 days, beginning at the time the unofficial votes were tallied Tuesday night, to certify the election.

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